On November 19, when the Golden State Warriors trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 23 points, something incalculable lingered in the air. Despite the lead, you didn’t believe the Clippers would beat the Warriors, who were just 12-0 then, freshly varnished with the aura of invincibility we’ve since grown accustomed to. Invincibility, in the form of Stephen Curry, was still glued to the bench with one basket and foul trouble. The Warriors were like Superman, waiting for the last bullet to ricochet off his chest. Each Clipper blow only made them look stronger.
They won. And they kept winning. Eventually, you watched the Warriors break 16-0, then 20, then 24, conjuring comparisons to Jordan’s 72-win ’96 Bulls. Curry continued to operate in historic terms. He climbed up the all-time 3-point ranks; the only single-season record he can break is the one he set last year. He will. Soon, your heart quivered with each moment of brilliance. Steeped in a collective experience, you flipped to each game with the understanding that one day, these events would be neatly engraved into the pervasive myth. You felt, for the first time, a certain allegiance to these Warriors and this sense of inevitability, the overwhelming poetry and authority of Steph Curry.
If you’re a millennial like me, that meant blissfully – and finally –surrendering to cliché. You wanted what any person has ever wanted: to witness something. To say you were there. To know how it felt to see Michael Jordan win his first ring or take the Last Shot, to figure out whether his legend is extracted from truth or romanticized by the passing of time. That LeBron James was never that guy for you led you to believe it was the latter. In truth, LeBron never possessed the necessary on-court arrogance to mimic Jordan’s inner mania, to align his individual talents toward violently realigning the NBA’s chemical structure. LeBron may retire as the most complete player the NBA has ever seen, but he always needed that shooter in the corner.
Then there’s Curry, who collects the ball after Anthony Davis pokes it out of his fingers and opens the game with a 28-foot jumper over The Brow’s lanky arms. Perhaps Curry took Davis’ original swipe as an affront, that he released the ball as a method of dictating terms. But maybe he was staking a different claim. Maybe it was the simple fact of Davis’ arms: the implication that size still matters. You gawk as Curry rapidly writes a new NBA, where victory is a not a matter of size, space or distance. It’s geometric, the high arc beating the high arm. Check this ridiculous angle. Or this one.